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What is a charter school lottery and how do I enroll my child in a Wyoming public charter school?

Charter schools are popular with families and often there are more students who want to attend a charter school than the school has room for. In this case, a randomized lottery is used to ensure that all applicants have an equal chance of being admitted. You might be asking yourself, “What is a lottery and how does it work?”

1. How do I enroll my child in a public charter school?

The first step is to complete an application, similar to an application to enroll in a local school district school. The application usually requests basic information like name, grade level, address, email address and telephone number. The second step to enrolling is a randomized lottery (if necessary) to determine which students will attend the school. If your child's name is selected, the last step is the enrollment/registration process which occurs after a student has been admitted and has accepted that admission. At no time prior to enrolling your child should a charter school ask for registration fees, transcripts, sample school work, IEPs or test scores.

2. What is a charter school lottery?

A school lottery is a random selection process for determining which students will attend. The lottery system aims to give all applicants an equal chance of being admitted. A school lottery system only occurs when more students apply for admission than can be admitted. 

3. Why do charter schools conduct a lottery?

Charter schools usually have specific enrollment periods where parents can apply to the school. However, due to the high demand of charter schools, there might not be enough enrollment spots to allow all applicants to attend the school of choice. 

To fix this problem, charter schools usually turn to what is known as a lottery system. Because charter schools are free public schools that are open to all, they do not require any type of admissions process such as interviews, essays, or test scores. Therefore, the most fair way of selecting who can attend charter schools is through a school lottery system. If the total number of applicants exceeds the space available, by law a charter school must use a randomized, blind lottery process that is open to to the public. If the number of applicants does not exceed the number of spaces available, a lottery selection is not necessary and all applicants can be admitted to the school.

4. Can a charter school automatically admit students to the school?

No, a charter school must use a randomized lottery if there are more applicants than room at the school. The Wyoming charter school law does not allow an student to bypass the lottery at any time.

5. What actions do charter schools take after registration but before a lottery is conducted?

Charter schools often take a variety of actions to promote community awareness of the school and the randomized lottery. The process involves extensive information dissemination and recruitment activities conducted over several weeks or months. A charter school normally advertises its enrollment process using social media, community information meetings, bulletin boards, and other methods designed to inform parents and community members. This practice ensures that there is equal opportunity for all parents and students to learn about the school and submit an application.